1. Research
2. Visit Neighborhood Associations
3. Hire Professionals
4. Have a Backup Plan
5. Zoning Ordinances
6. Variance
7. Rezoning and Variance Application Procedures

To change the zoning residential to commercial, print out the official zoning map (which can be found online), then look for trends on how property is zoned within your community. The principal zoning categories are:

  • Industrial
  • Commercial
  • Residential
  • Agricultural
  • Mixed use

The city's government or county is responsible for creating the zoning laws, and a special zoning department or committee is placed in charge of handling these decisions.


You can research the area's history to determine if there have been instances where the zoning of a property was changed. Areas where roads, subway systems, and railroads are being built usually see a lot of zoning changes. Also, large corporations usually request that residential properties are changed to commercial. However, before requesting a change, you must show that the zoning modification will benefit the surrounding community.

Visit Neighborhood Associations

You could find a property that was previously residential and later rezoned to commercial, collect evidence on how it has benefited the community, and apply the same to your situation. Before seeking a zoning change, you should visit the neighborhood association (most well-organized neighborhoods have one). In some cases, neighbors may oppose your request for a zoning change due to worries over increased pollution, noise, and traffic. When you visit the association, you should meet new persons, build rapport, and offer solutions to their concerns.

Hire Professionals

Rezoning decisions require approval both from the government and the community. You can attend regular government zoning meetings to build relationships and network with key decision makers as well as learn about key requirements and how individuals succeeded in rezoning their residential property. You should hire a surveyor, engineer, architect, or attorney to buttress your case and collect the land description details for your property.

Have a Backup Plan

When going to present the request to the zoning committee/department in charge of your county or district, you should:

  • Look professional
  • Have a backup plan in the event of your original plan being rejected due to too many concerns
  • Make the rezoning request to the designated officials
  • Properly file the requisite paperwork
  • Pay all filing fees

Once this is done, your request will be printed in the local newspaper, giving neighbors the opportunity to present their opinions and concerns. In some cases, the government may ask you to revise the plan, after which there will be a final vote to decide if the zoning ordinance will be changed. Since zoning laws are instituted and enforced locally, you must follow certain procedures (which are dictated by the town's zoning board) if you desire a reclassification of your residential property.

Zoning Ordinances

Zoning ordinances are put in place to maintain the purpose and nature of property and prove segregation of unsuitable land use. It prevents new developments from harming existing residences and businesses in the specified area while ensuring that residential areas are evenly spaced to allow adequate space for street, schools, utility infrastructure, and home development.

It is usually difficult to rezone a residential property to a commercial one since it causes an increase in traffic and infringes on privacy. Any individual residing in a municipality can ask the local zoning board to rezone their property; however, seeking a variance is more common.


A variance is a permit that allows the holder to use property in a way that is not covered in the zoning restrictions. This allows homeowners to operate a business in their residence, though this is subject to many restrictions. There is usually a restriction on the size and amount of signage to be used, height of structures, the number of vehicles used, and parking in a home-based business. The municipality could also restrict the number of clients and customers that can visit the residence per day.

Rezoning and Variance Application Procedures

Individuals who want to operate sizable home-based businesses (one that cannot be accommodated by existing zoning restrictions) and want to rezone their residential property to commercial must obtain approval from the local planning commission or zoning board. Although the procedures vary from district to district, the process usually requires:

  • Public notice
  • Meeting with zoning board members
  • Discussion with the neighborhood association

The process of applying for variance is also similar.

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